Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kinsmans - North, South, and North Again - March 2, 2014

Theresa and I met somewhat early for this one, with the intent of getting home at a reasonable hour. After a bumpy ride up Route 116 from 112 to the Mount Kinsman Trailhead (and driving right by the trailhead though I realized it within a few dozen yards), and carefully getting up the icy slope into the parking lot, we geared up and hit the trail. Like the day before, the start of the trail was rock-hard and light traction would have been more than sufficient, but we anticipated some drifting on the ridge and it's much nicer to wear the snowshoes than carry them. Snowshoes on crusty snow make conversation hard, and so our pace wasn't terribly fast up to the Bald Peak Spur owing to needing to stop constantly to hear each other! With a low cloud ceiling (somewhere around 3000-3500 feet), we didn't bother venturing out to Bald Peak. We'd both been there on nicer days. The stream crossings were completely bridged, and in fact on one of them it took a moment to realize there was a stream under us.

Starting out under overcast skies with a well-packed trail

This was a stream crossing...took a few seconds to hear the water underneath us!

This next stretch of the Mount Kinsman Trail had an inch or so of unconsolidated snow on it, and it was much nicer snowshoeing. Heel lifts up, we steadily attacked the steady-but-not-steep climb. Shortly into this climb we were overtaken from behind by a solo hiker who recognized me. It took me a moment, but I soon recognized Greg YEAH!, who I hiked with to Owl's Head in February 2013. It was great to see him again, and to be able to congratulate him in person for finishing his Winter 4000-footer list back on new Year's Eve. We'd see him again near the col between the Kinsmans as he headed out.

Mount Kinsman Trail/Kinsman Ridge Trail junction
 The climb to the ridge went well, and before long we were at the junction with the Kinsman Ridge Trail, about 3/4-mile below the summit of North Kinsman. We could see the clouds were trying to lift some, but they hadn't lifted enough by the time we crossed the summit a short time later. Therefore, it was a quick touch-and-go, with a snack break held a tenth of a mile below the summit. The trail between the peaks was a little drifted here and there, nothing major but the snowshoes were definitely nice for it. The trail drops fairly steeply initially off of North Kinsman, but then it is a steady drop to the col, and then a steady climb to South Kinsman. There are 2 knobs on South Kinsman less than 1/10-mile apart, the Southern one (the one further away from North Kinsman) offers the best view and seems to be the high point. As we neared South Kinsman's open summit, the clouds opened a little, offering some limited views here and there. But overall, it was not to be.

Kinsman Pond from partway up South Kinsman

Theresa near South Kinsman

South Kinsman summit cairn

North Kinsman from near South Kinsman
Upon our return to North Kinsman, the views were starting to open up at last. We took a short break at the viewpoint just below the summit, where Cannon Mountain was just visible. After that, it was an uneventful snowshoe out. Although, about 30 minutes from the trailhead we started seeing a decent amount of blue sky. Figures. The early bird didn't get the worm this time. But it was still a nice hike, Theresa added to her Winter 4000-Footer list, and I added to my March grid, marking my 6th month to reach the 20-peak mark.

South Kinsman from near North Kinsman

The CannonBalls to Cannon Mountain

Lonesome Lake from North Kinsman

Cannon Mountain from North Kinsman

A sugaring shack low on the Mount Kinsman Trail - and note some blue skies now!
Route: Mount Kinsman Trail, Kinsman Ridge Trail
Peaks: North Kinsman (4293', NH4K), South Kinsman (4358', NH4K)
Mileage: 10.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3900ft
Book Time: 7hr (actual 6hr 45min)

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